Throughout the almost 2 year history of ThePlaneGeek.com I have written multiple articles about the American low-cost carrier Southwest airlines (SWA). Southwest who calls themselves the “LUV” airline is devoted to making the economy passenger experience better while keeping ticket prices low. This tends to make for a solid short to medium haul product that you are likely to enjoy. Enough with the background info, lets go flying!
I made it to the airport at roughly seven in the morning to catch Southwest Flight 543 from Albuquerque to Phoenix. After some bag checking, some airport security and some waiting I was more than ready to get in the air. Right on time an old Boeing 737-300 (similar to the one pictured below) pulled up to our gate. After going through Southwest’s unusual but quick boarding process I found my seat and got comfortable. While waiting for other passengers to board the aircraft I looked up the registration on the aircraft and found that it was built in 1994. It seemed to be in great shape for being 21 years old!
We taxied to runway 8 and took off. One thing I noticed was that the 737-300 is a particularly loud aircraft compared to the newer 737-700. The noise levels got much better at cruise but were still high compared to most new aircraft. I wasn’t able to use wi-fi on the flight because the old 737-300 aircraft have not been retrofitted with it and probably never will be. Aside from the noise and lack of wi-fi I had no complaints about the aircraft which was very clean and well kept. About 5 minutes after reaching cruise altitude our drink orders were taken. Southwest has complimentary soda, juice and water for all passengers. Upon receiving our drinks we were given peanuts and pretzels.
These food offerings may seem small compared to most airlines but the airlines that serve full meals make you pay extra whereas food offerings on Southwest come with your ticket.
The rest of the flight was great and the seats that are in Southwest’s evolve interior are fairly comfortable. My only seat complaint is that the backs need to be taller because I am fairly average at 6 feet tall and the seat backs felt short.
After some time in Phoenix I had to make the return trip on southwest flight 939 which was again a very nice experience. That aircraft was a brand new 737-700. The only differences from the 300 in terms of passenger experience were wi-fi and sound levels. The Southwest wi-fi cost’s $8 per day per device and is adequate for web surfing and email checks but really nothing more because it is not super fast internet. Southwest also has a free flight tracker that you can pull up on your tablet that is an awesome tool.
Overall this is how I would break down the Southwest experience:
Food: 7/10 Seat Comfort: 8/10 Aircraft: 9/10 Customer Service: 10/10 Overall:9/10
Southwest is definitely an airline I would/do fly on frequently and I had a very good experience both ways.
Some cool photos from the trip: